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Why You Should Make HR Pros Play with Smartphone Apps

Today's post comes to us from Workforce Institute board member David Creelman. Here he discusses why HR pros should take time to play with smartphone apps in order to understand the possibilities of new technologies in the human resources domain.

If I were a Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO), I'd demand my team download and play with various smartphone apps, such as FlightRadar and Woebot. (I'd be a tough leader!)

Of the two, Woebot is the app that seems like it would provide more value to HR at first glance: it's a chatbot that uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to address issues like anxiety and depression. The tool itself might be useful for employees, and in any case, it's a great example of how a chatbot can deliver training.

The value of FlightRadar is less obvious but perhaps even greater. FlightRadar shows all the aircraft in flight around the world with information about speed, delays, weather and excellent background information on each aircraft. FlightRadar is interesting because there are at least 4 reasons why it should be impossible:

  1. Surely that data can't be available
  2. Surely if the data were available it wouldn't be accessible
  3. Surely if the data existed and was accessible it couldn't be displayed on an everyday device every schoolchild owns
  4. Surely even if all of the above were true it couldn't be free

My reasons why this app should be impossible were all very credible until just a few years ago. Now, unlike me, a teenager with a smartphone is not in the least surprised that such a free app exists.

Here's why this is important for HR and the future of work. Things we might consider impossible (or might not even have imagined before deeming them impossible) are becoming increasingly common. The future of work will involve continually confronting the unimaginable. The best way for people, including HR professionals, to stay attuned to what might be possible is to immerse themselves in new technologies any chance they get.

It really is impossible to tell what specific implications apps like Woebot, FlightRadar and all the rest will have for business or HR. I don't think it would be particularly helpful to have a meeting where we tried to draw a straight-line from FlightRadar to HR practice. What I do believe, is that people attuned to the latest technology will have a better feel for what is possible and apply that to their work.

We're all going to have to spend a greater portion of the day learning, rather than merely working. Playing with apps is one way to start.

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